Narrowing Your College Choices

Here are a few tips on how to narrow down from the 1300 colleges & universities to a few schools that might be right for you.

Decide What You Want
  1. Do you want to go to college?
  2. What are you going to college for?
  3. Do you need to go to a two-year or four-year school?
  4. Do you want to go to small or big school?
  5. Urban or rural?
  6. Big sports teams or small teams?
  7. Students: Read our article "Students - Questions to Ask"
Research
  1. Look for schools that match your needs and preferences.
  2. Go here for online web sites and articles to help your search.
Narrow It Down
  1. You don't have to apply to dozens of schools. To lower application fees and time spent on each application, consider limiting your choices to a reasonable number of schools you're truly interested in..
  2. Use your personal preferences to eliminate schools from your list.
  3. Consider factors like tuition, location, financial aid options, school reputation (academically and socially), and selectivity.
Visit Your Choices
  1. If you can, try to visit your top choices to see which one you prefer. You can do this before or after you apply.
  2. Make sure to visit when school is in session.
  3. At your visit, be sure to talk to students and staff.
  4. Sample the student life – some schools may allow you to stay overnight in a dorm, eat in the cafeteria and attend classes, lectures and events.

WHN TIP: Publications

Pick up a student newspaper and other publications to see what’s happening on campus. Check out student bulletin boards and calendars in dorms, campus centers and student unions to see what the social scene is like.

Make Your Choice
  1. After visiting, narrow down your college list.
  2. If you have not yet applied, consider applying to your selected colleges.
  3. Don’t worry about choosing the "wrong" college. If you make a choice and find out the college you selected may have not been the "best" one, remember that transferring to another school may be an option.